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Supervisor Justin Cummings appointed to California Coastal Commission

Supervisor Justin Cummings was appointed to the California Coastal Commission by state Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon. He will serve the remaining two years of the four-year term for the Central Coast seat vacancy he is filling until May 20, 2025.

Posted on April 5, 2023

State Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon has appointed newly elected Santa Cruz County Supervisor Justin Cummings to the immensely powerful California Coastal Commission, his office announced Thursday.

“I’m excited to be able to appoint Santa Cruz County Supervisor Justin Cummings to the California Coastal Commission,” said Speaker Rendon in a prepared release. “His commitment to be an advocate for protecting the environment and ensuring coastal access for all Californians, including people of color, will be an asset to the Coastal Commission and our state.”

Cummings represents the county’s 3rd District, which hugs the coastline from Santa Cruz to Davenport. He previously said the district has the largest portion of land falling within the coastal zone.

Cummings holds a doctorate from UC Santa Cruz’s Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology with an emphasis in environmental science and was the founding program director for the school’s Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program.

“I am very grateful and honored to serve in this capacity and hope to bring my years of experience working in the environmental sciences,” remarked Cummings, who is also the first Black supervisor in the county’s 173-year history. “I look forward to promoting the Speaker’s values around diversity and environmental justice on the commission. I thank Speaker Rendon for this opportunity.”

According to Cummings, he is also the first Santa Cruz County representative appointed to the commission since Mark Stone served from 2009 to 2012 while he was also 5th District supervisor.

The commission, widely considered to be one of the most influential regulatory bodies in the state, oversees about 1.5 million acres of land along the California coastline stretching from Oregon to Mexico – an area greater in size than the state of Rhode Island.

It has 12 voting members, half of which are “public members” and the other half are local elected officials from specific coastal districts. The commission is responsible for regulating land and water use in the coastal zone including construction of buildings, divisions of land and activities that change the intensity of use of land or public access to coastal waters.

In addition to Cummings, Supervisor Manu Koenig and Capitola City Council member Yvette Brooks were also put forward for consideration by Rendon for the seat.

“I am so happy to hear the Speaker picked a commissioner from our County,” said Brooks in an email to the Sentinel. “Justin is a smart pick and I know he will represent the County the best he can.”

Cummings and Koenig both threw their names in the mix during a board meeting last month. Brooks was nominated for contention by a local committee comprised of mayors from all four cities in the county called the “City Select Committee.” The committee recently drew criticism after years of meeting in private, but abruptly reversed that position and held a public “redo” of its selection process in February.

Cummings will serve the remaining two years of the four-year term for the vacant seat he is filling, which is set to expire May 20, 2025. According to the release from Rendon, Cummings will receive $100 per day for this role and $12.50 for prep not to exceed eight hours, plus actual and necessary expenses.


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